They come in and out of my cell during the daytime. They
don’t seem to have any fear of humans, and it’s as if we have a mutual understanding not to bother each other.
I’m talking about a small
nest of black wasps that have made a home for themselves on a small ledge outside my window.
My window has a screen welded to the inside portion of it. It’s not a fine mesh screen , however. Instead it is
a common institutional–type heavy iron screen with uniform rows of metal strips that only allow me to poke my fingers
through the holes. Thus an array of flying bugs could come and go as they please.
I am living through an oppressive heat wave. It’s
been so hot for weeks on end that it seems as if the summer has been here forever.
Fortunately I have a small 6-inch oscillating fan.
Every inmate is allowed to purchase one through the prison’s commissary.
I could use six!
Nevertheless my wasp friends visit daily. They
fly in, one at a time, zip around my head for a few seconds, and the make their way to the sink. It’s water they need.
A lot of men are scared of these creatures. They’re
spooked by anything with a stinger in its tail. Yet I am convinced that this
little family of wasps could sense that I like them. I’m serious!
There happens to be nests of wasps in lots of places on the facility grounds. I’m in a remote area that’s surrounded by woods.
And since almost all the prisoners keep their windows open in this heat, human /wasp encounters are common. But I only recall one time, many years ago, when a man got stung.
He sat on one.
My wasp neighbors are welcome because they seem so tame.
I’ll sit back and watch them. They sense no danger. They’re not aggressive and they know to keep their distance.
We simply have an unspoken arrangement to share the sink. Yet I envy their
freedom. They have no comprehension of what it is like to be confined to a cell.
July 26, 2005
© 2005 David Berkowitz